Marjorie Welish is not just a poet. Most of her work is actually focused on art in a broader sense – as a painter, art critic and historian. Visiting her website I was actually struggling to find any reference to her earlier poetic work at all – and yet the links to the poetry community are showing subtly, not least in the use of Welish’s paintings on the cover of a number of Poetics Journal reprints edited by Lyn Hejinian.
Paul Hoover included 5 of her poems in the anthology, highlighting their meditative character, rhetorical detachment and imagistic complexity. He noted:
“Welish’s poetry avoids conclusiveness and the grand gesture; instead it delights in ambiguity and theoretical difficulty, and finds lyricism there.”
I have to say, I find her poetic work very powerful and I sincerely love her ambiguity. You can find some of her poems online at the EPC.
For my response I tried to focus on the peculiar mixture of ambiguity and meditation. I drew on the philosophical writings of John Rawls – more specifically on the first few sentences of his ground-breaking Theory of Justice. I subjected the original text to a procedure of translation, using online translation tools to translate the text back and forth between English, Russian, Korean, Chinese and Arabic. I was curious to see how the text’s meaning would shift and open up for ambiguity in the process and how different version of the text would interact with the original words by Rawls. The outcome is a political piece (as so often with me), but also a piece concerned with ambiguity and the manifestation of abstract thought in words.
~ - ~
Within this book, called Justice
the role of justice the role of the judiciary the role of the just judicial role that is truth such as dignity social services system that is justice is the first virtue of social institutions as truth is system the ministry of justice the ministry of truth such as dignity social services system truth such as dignity is the system justice is the first virtue justice is as is dignity the first is the first virtue is dignity justice is the virtue just is the first is of social institutions as truth is of systems of thought
if you are not real such economic theories such as truth as justice is but you need to modify you need to reject or grace and economy grace and economic theory but grace and economy must be rejected or modified if it's not real if it’s not real economic theory must be rejected must be first modified but grace and economy such as rejected or modified if it's not real a theory however elegant a theory however a theory however grace and economy and modified a theory however an elegant theory a theory however elegant and economical must be rejected or revised if it is untrue a theory however social services system a theory however must be elegant and justice must be the first virtue must be grace and economy must be dignity a theory however elegant must be if you are not real you need to reject dignity however elegant
in addition the legal and institutional mechanisms are effective and are accurate likewise laws and institutions to be honest regardless laws and institutions regardless of how efficient regardless of how precise arrangements should to be honest regardless of the honest regardless of revised or abolished mechanisms similarly as dignity should be reformed or abolished if fair similarly to be honest must be reformed or abolished must be abolished must be precise to be honest regardless of how similarly must be regardless the effective and precise mechanisms should be reformed should be abolished to be honest if fair likewise no matter if they are unjust regardless of how efficient and precise to be honest well-arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust similarly unjust must be laws and institutions similarly unjust to be honest must be grace and economy must be revised regardless of the honest should be abolished if they are unjust
each is full each person possesses each one built in social justice even if sanctity of public welfare even if as a whole cannot override each is full each person inviolable each person possess even if sanity each possess an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override each is full inviolable everyone has a built in community justice even if sanctity of social welfare as a whole cannot override even if the sanctity even the public welfare founded on justice each is full each is a person cannot ignore the dignity of public the dignity of public welfare even if built on social justice cannot override as a whole each person possesses each person is full each built in social justice the dignity the grace and economy each is full in the first virtue in the system the welfare of the inviolability of each in every grace
and justice for this reason justice for the loss of freedom denies for this reason justice right by a greater good grace and economy for this reason justice denies that the loss of freedom for some the freedom is made right by the greater good shared by others for this reason for this justice in dignity the freedom of losing some major benefits is corrected one being shared the justice by others for this reason denies freedom to lose several important advantages is the right shared is the several important advantages to lose freedom justice denies for this reason shared by others on the right
it does not allow grace and economy the first virtue and dignity the sacrifices it does not allow that few are outweighed by the large sum of many it does not allow offset sacrifices you will not be able to compensate you sacrifice a lot to enjoy advantages of the minority imposed will not be able to compensate it does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few are outweighed it does not allow to be outweighed by the larger sum of advantages enjoyed by many it does not allow that the sacrifices you will not be able to compensate it will not allow to enjoy advantages the offset of sacrifice imposed on minorities an advantage enjoyed by many large amount
thus in a just society therefore in a just society of liberties in the equal in the citizens freedoms therefore in a just society the liberties of equal citizenship in the society of citizens’ freedoms from a position comparable to civil liberties in a just society equal citizenship are taken as settled on an equal footing is resolved on an equal footing will be solved thus from a position comparable to civil liberties will be resolved in a fair society
judicial protection the right secured by justice are not subject the rights of non-compromising political or social interests of stones the rights secured by justice are not subject they are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interest to the right calculus or social interests of stones judicial protection of the rights of the uncompromising political and social interest of stones understanding the political and social relations the settlement of a stone the throw of a stone of the right of judicial protection by justice are not subject to bargaining or the calculus of stones
let us only tolerate theory the only thing that permits us allow us an error allowed the only thing theory there is no better one there is no better one let us allow only theories the only thing that permits us to acquiesce in an erroneous theory is the lack of a better one the only thing theory is no better allow us an error the only thing theory there is no better one
it’s even more in order to prevent irregularities only when it is required again analogously an injustice is tolerable only when it is necessary to avoid an even greater injustice similarly the silence similarly only when it is necessary in order to avoid further injustice the silence on injustices only when it is necessary in order to avoid further analogously it’s even more in order to prevent irregularities on when it is required again negative silence even greater injustice similarly silence injustices when it is necessary only in order to avoid similarly
human activities truth and justice is the first virtue is relentless is the first virtue in truth human activity is in truth and justice is the first virtue is brutal human truth and justice is the first virtue is human relentlessly human activity being first being first relentless human activity is brutal in truth and justice is human activity being first virtues of human activity being human being in truth and brutally truth and justice is the first virtue is relentless being first virtues of human activities truth and justice are uncompromising that is true